Parents banking on Halloween being a lifeline to some semblance of normalcy are going to have to find pre-pandemic joy some other way.

Public health officials have been urging families for weeks to find safe alternatives to trick-or-treating. Those exhortations have grown stronger as the numbers of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have begun to spike across Washington state and the nation.

It’s difficult staying away from others, but with the holiday season fast approaching, it’s important to keep taking precautions to keep each other safe, Washington’s deputy health secretary Lacy Fehrenbach said in a recent news briefing.

“We’ll need to redouble our efforts to have fewer, shorter, smaller, safer gatherings in Washington state,” Fehrenbach said. “Gatherings in groups, even with people we know well, people we trust, people we love, can still spread COVID. The more people we interact with at a gathering, and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk is of becoming infected.”

Ruel Gregory and her kids, Henry, 7, Delilah, 9, and Bella, 13, were looking forward to Halloween, but it’s unclear what the holiday, including trick-or-treating, will look like this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photographed in the Central District neighborhood of Seattle Saturday September 19, 2020. 215125

Will Halloween in Seattle be canceled by COVID-19? Not exactly. But here’s how the holiday will be different